Will the Establishment Reps Abandoning RINOcare Spell Its Defeat?

Is RINOcare DOA? It sure looks like it.

House Republican leadership has been putting the squeeze on conservative members to toe the party line on health care reform. Speaker Paul Ryan has characterized support for the current legislation as a “binary choice” between repealing Obamacare or keeping the law forever.

“This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare,” he said. “It really comes down to a binary choice.”

Well, after the Congressional Budget Office released its report on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), now it’s the moderates and progressive Republicans who are threatening to kill the bill.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) declared Tuesday she would vote “No” on the AHCA, based on the liberal “uninsured” argument.

Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) said he believes the bill will likely fail in the Senate, which gives him an excuse not to vote for it in the House. “I do not want to vote on a bill that has no chance of passing over in the Senate,” Lance said this week. “The CBO score has modified the dynamics.” And then there’s Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Penn.), who blamed conservatives for pushing RINOcare too far to the right by demanding a rollback of Medicaid expansion.

Over on the Senate side, Bill Cassidy (R-La.) is accusing President Trump of breaking his promise on health care reform. Not because the Republican plan does not fully repeal Obamacare, but rather because the recent CBO estimate that 24 million will lose their insurance by 2026 under the American Health Care Act. “That’s not what President Trump promised,” Cassidy told CNN. “That’s not what Republicans ran on.”

The Republican Party needs 51 votes in the Senate to send the reconciliation repeal bill to President Trump’s desk. If three Republicans defect, the bill dies. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) oppose the bill because they believe it does not go far enough to repeal Obamacare’s treacherous policies. Vice President Mike Pence told Conservative Review Editor-in-Chief Mark Levin Tuesday that conservative amendments were expected to be added to the legislation to make it more palatable.

But when you consider how Republican moderates think the bill already goes too far, things look bleak for the American Health Care Act in the U.S. Senate.

What is the GOP to do? Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggests that if the party can’t come to a consensus, they should leave Obamacare alone, to implode all its own.

President Trump has also floated this idea. “Let it be a disaster,” Trump told state governors recently, explaining his Plan B in the health care fight. “[B]ecause we can blame that on the Dems that are in our room, and we can blame that on the Democrats and President Obama.”

Trump can certainly blame Obama and the Democrats for the collapse of the health insurance market. But those criticisms won’t be as effectual as he believes, because the Democrats are out of power. Republicans hold Congress and the White House now; voters expect them to act. They want promises of full repeal delivered on. RINOcare does not keep Republican promises.

The GOP is well and truly caught between a rock and a hard place. If they make the bill more conservative with amendments, more progressive Republicans will bolt. If they water down the bill further, conservatives won’t vote for it.

If Republicans want to save face, they should take the Freedom Caucus’ lead — take up and vote on the 2015 full repeal bill that every Republican previously voted for. Senator Mike Lee made such a case at The Daily Signal this week, noting the 2015 bill has already cleared the “Byrd rule” hurdle. So, if Republicans were actually serious about repealing Obamacare in 2015, this bill should fly through Congress straight to President Trump’s desk now.

That is, if Republicans were actually serious about repealing Obamacare. (For more from the author of “Will the Establishment Reps Abandoning RINOcare Spell Its Defeat?” please click HERE)

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